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Christian Union: The Magazine
December 13, 2019

'Go and Make Disciples'

By Shelby Brainard, Princeton ’22


Most Princeton students spend their summers engaged in activities such as internships, summer jobs, or backpacking trips, but undergraduates Jack Monaco and John Smith dedicated their long break to sharing the Gospel.

The students’ spiritual fervor on summer break was the direct result of an effort at advanced discipleship by then-Princeton senior Mikal Walcott. During the latter half of the 2019 spring semester, Walcott led a group of five underclassmen (including Monaco and Smith) in an intensive, seven-week spiritual “boot camp” that included an hour of morning prayer and two hours of afternoon instruction, Monday through Friday.

Walcott created this cohort after feeling called by God to pass along his knowledge and experience in advancing God’s kingdom to younger disciples. Although the commitment of nearly fifteen hours a week to prayer and instruction was difficult at a university like Princeton, the five young men immediately began to testify to incredible fruit and growth in their lives as a result of their commitment to the Lord and to each other during those six weeks. 


Members of the spiritual discipleship group (clockwise from bottom left): Derek Li, Shelby Brainard, Daniel Rim, Austin Colorite, Mikal Walcott, and Jack Monaco.

Austin Colorite ’21, current president of Worship House, said being part of the boot camp has helped him yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit. In particular, the focus on prayer, genuine worship, exercise of spiritual gifts, and bold evangelism has inspired the members to seek God in new ways on campus and in their communities.


Monaco, a sophomore from Los Altos, California, spent most of the summer at home, where he felt called by God to start a weekly worship night in his backyard for neighbors and high school friends. Monaco, with the help of other local Christians, hosted twelve worship nights throughout the summer. The gatherings were bolstered by prayer and many invitations to neighbors.

God responded powerfully to this commitment, surrender, and trust in Him, Monaco said. “Our meetings ranged from fifteen to fifty people; sometimes it was just worship, other times, group intercession or [prayer for healing] broke out.” Most importantly, said Monaco, hearts and lives were transformed: “We had so many testimonies of random people coming to the event and reconnecting with God after a long time away from Him.”


Monaco says that his favorite moment came at the end of the summer right before one of the last worship sessions. The leadership team spent three minutes in intercession for the worship night, which was followed  by four hours of battling in spiritual warfare on behalf of each other.

“The power of the events came from our unified commitments to one another and to Christ,” Monaco said. “I learned how fun it is to be obedient, and that it is such a privilege to do God’s work and be involved with the work of Jesus.”

Smith (whose name is changed here for security reasons), a junior from California, embarked on an independent missions trip throughout East Asia, where he visited many of his contacts from a previous missions trip. His time was primarily spent building relationships with locals that would lead to opportunities to share the Gospel. In one particular house church, Smith encountered a demon-possessed daughter of a church member. Smith, who had previous experience casting out demons, worked with members of the house church to cast multiple spirits out of the girl, who immediately showed effects of recovery. 

Although he did not speak the native language, Smith said that turned into a blessing, as the isolation it caused allowed him to spend long periods of time alone with God. Because of the independent nature of his trip, he learned the value of being intentional about his actions, including his use of money, and yielding to the Spirit in everything. His biggest takeaway: “Despite anything that’s miraculous, it’s the power of the Gospel that saves. This simple message of truth far surpasses the most powerful signs and wonders.”